Illustrator of the Week: Ekua Holmes

Ekua Holmes has devoted her practice to sustaining contemporary Black Art traditions in Boston, as an artist, curator of exhibitions, and as an active member of Boston’s art community. Holmes noticed that there was a lack of positive images of African-American’s and thought art could supplement this, so she founded the organization The Great Black Art Collection, to introduce black art to new audiences.

Holmes has also been an advocate for women founding: “Epiphany: Excerpts from the Lives of Black Women Artists,” a group exhibition exclusively of women of color, who overcame obstacles, to become or remain artists.

Holmes artwork is inspired by her family and life. In her collages she includes pieces that remind her of her relationships.

“Those relationships left impressions that are now infused in the layers of my collages and elicit both fond recollections and universal life lessons….”

Holmes grew up in Roxbury, MA and graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Currently, she is the assistant director of MassArt’s Center of Art and Community Partnerships. She is in charge of their community outreach whose mission is “igniting art and design in the neighborhood!”

Holmes has received awards, both for her artworks, and in recognition of her community outreach and curatorial efforts championing the Black Art traditions of Boston. She is the recipient of the 2013 NAACP Image Award, a Brother Thomas Fellowship, and a 5-year appointment to the Boston Art Commission.

This year, Holmes created a  Google Doodle commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday. In 2016 Holmes illustrations in the book, Voice of Freedom, Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, won the Caldecott Honor, a Robert F. Sibert Honor, the Flora Stieglitz Strauss Award from Bank Street College and is a Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book. Works from this book are featured in the exhibition Telling A People’s Story. Most recently, Holmes won the 2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for her book Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, written by Kwame Alexander.

Holmes is also the recipient of the Society of Illustrators Original Art Silver medal and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe award for New Talent. To learn more about Holmes visit her website or come hear her speak at the Art Museum’s Telling A People’s Story Exhibition Conference from April 20-21.

Source(s): Holmes, Ekua. “About Ekua Holmes.” Ekua Holmes,